Khalid Robinson is less than a third as old as this year’s 60th run of the Grammy awards, but the artist almost fresh out of high school has five Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. In music circles, Khalid is the only name Robinson needs to summon, attracting fans with his smooth as silk voice and very vulnerable topics in life and love. He can still remember dreaming of just going to the Grammy awards not very long ago, and now, Khalid Robinson will very likely be leaving the ceremony with his own armload of trophies.

In this age of mega-producers and superstar songwriters, famous DJs with a beat have to be on board to muster a hit.

However, Khalid Robinson did something completely different. Straight out of high school in El Paso, he wrote his own anthology of growing up. It was an open diary—deep, wrenching, and very real. There was no “glory” in running the streets in these songs. “American Teen” almost instantly connected with a yearning audience, because its composer was courageous enough to be uncompromisingly open, and reveal sides of himself through the undulations of his voice that few artists ever approach.

The accolades and fans are approaching him from all corners now, but Khalid Robinson is content and committed to not letting success sway him from the person he is. He talked about life as a very uncommon teenager and a tremendously successful artist with “CBS This Morning” for a January 23 profile.

No strings attached

Khalid Robinson is right at home at a vintage vinyl shop near his current LA stomping grounds. He instantly points out NWA, Nina Simone, and others from a wall of artists who are at least old enough to be his own parents or even grandparents. The songwriter has a deep regard for the groundbreakers of the past, and that is reflected in his smooth delivery and infectious melodies on everything from love songs to anthems of his rough times growing up.

They all come from his head, heart, and soul, with an open admission that “I can't play an instrument to save my life,” from Robinson. When he sings from the booth, though, the process becomes “like waving my wand,” and the feeling of a completed song is magical. “I know when I've got it, and I know when it's done,” the composer affirmed.

Oddly enough, it was Khalid’s mother, Linda Wolfe, an Army captain and single mother after his father was killed by a drunk driver when he was very young, who was the star in her son's eyes. “You belong on TV, mom,” Khalid would remind as she sang around the house. Military careers demand constant transition, and many moves, so her career dreams of being a singer were sacrificed, although she did become a singer with the U.S. Army band. Her heart will be singing as she hears her son’s name in his nominations on Sunday, and in the assurance that he will never become the description of his platinum-selling “Young Dumb & Broke.” The song “Saved” more aptly speaks a mother’s prayer, and certainly describes what music has done in her son's life.

Tears talk truth

Khalid Robinson is the first to say that being vulnerable in song requires summoning courage that even he did not realize he had at first. He brought a close group of friends into the studio, knowing they would provide an honest reaction for him to gage. Tears falling down their faces gave all the affirmation of quality Khalid could want, but more than that, he knew he was “cared for a lot” by those nearest to him.

Robinson realizes that he's not grown up completely. “I still do a lot of 19-year-old stuff,” he knows, and yet he is thankful for the maturity that he has developed since being 16. Already, he is at ease in his own skin, with his groomed “top coiffe” hair, to his eclectic wardrobe, Khalid makes a statement with more than just his music.

Some of those friends will probably be the first to make the Grammys their “Location” beside their friend this weekend. He is still not legally of age to celebrate with a champagne toast at a bar, but there will be plenty of love, favorite memories, and cheers to his success pouring from private places after the ceremony.